Let’s do a July 29 edition of the Avs Mailbag. Not a whole heck of a lot going on with the Avs right now, but we know you still have questions, so let’s get to some:

Dater, It is nearly August now. I’m worried (Nikita) Zadorov might go back to Russia to play in the KHL. We are right screwed without him. Tell me why I shouldn’t panic.

Shawn, Toronto

I know you’re not alone, but I’m here to tell you: Don’t panic. Stand down. I just seriously, seriously doubt Zadorov will bolt for the KHL. Could it still happen? I guess it could, yeah. But if I had to bet my entire life savings on it, along with the house, double or nothing, I’d take the bet.

I’m told the money difference isn’t all that huge between the two parties right now. I’m told Zadorov is looking for $2.75 million to $3 million per year on his next deal. I’m told the Avs are offering about $2 million. Do you think the Avs are really going to let the principal player they got back in the Ryan O’Reilly deal up, a young left-shot defenseman, and walk away for the difference of $750k-$1 mil? (Wait, these are the Avs. Can I change my b…)”

CREDIT: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

No, look, of course not. They can’t and won’t let that happen. The two sides are just getting down to their last, best offers/breaking points. I fully expect something like a two-year, $4.75 million to $5 million deal at some point fairly soon.

And if the Avs DO let Zadorov get away for NOTHING, over relative chump change? Then, yeah, I’d have to say everybody in management should get fired. I think they want to keep their jobs and not look like fools, so that’s why I still am quite confident a deal gets done.

Adrian, 

With the many years under your belt covering the Avs, can you provide insight into why the Avs play things so tight to the chest? I know the NFL is a completely different entity, but the Broncos provide so much access and information to the fans. It’d be great for the Avs to follow that example. 
Thank you, Tom Kowatch
Tom,
Yeah, the Avs do play things close to the vest. That all started with Pierre Lacroix and his absolute zeal for keeping things in-house and an intolerance for any kind of leaks to the media. Pierre was fair about it though. He didn’t play favorites with the media. He wouldn’t punish one media person who might have written something he didn’t like, or got a good scoop, by going to another media person to give them a story. Some people out there do that.
Of course, that would frustrate us media at times, and not more than once did I say to Pierre, “When you keep things from us, you’re also keeping it from your paying customers, the fans.”
Well, let’s just say that line of argument never worked too well on Pierre. But let me say this about the Avs: They provide more detailed injury information than just about any team in the NHL, always have. They don’t intentionally lie to the media, at least not in my experience. No, they don’t just hand you the story, but when you have something you think is true and you tell them that you’re going to run with it, they don’t lie about its veracity to stop it from publishing.
Also, the Avs today put a whole heck of a lot of content up on their website. Every coach interview with the press, many player interviews, lots of feature stories, etc. In that sense, they provide more access than ever to the team. Yeah, it’s true: The Kroenke family are, ultimately, the editors of that site, along with Gary Bettman. Will you find any criticism of the team or the NHL on the Avs’ site? Nope. But that’s corporate life everywhere.
Teams today, companies today, more than ever want to control their own narrative. They have the platforms now to do that better. But as long as we’re in a democracy here, there will always be a media trying to get a fuller picture. That’s our job. And I guarantee you the Broncos don’t publish anything negative about themselves either. In fact, I’ve found the opposite of what you’re claiming, that the NFL is more open with the media and, therefore, the fans. There are many days you can’t even talk to certain players, like the quarterback. I’m not disparaging the Broncos in that sense. They have a great PR staff over there. It’s just NFL policy. In the NHL, every player is available every day, in-season. And, does anyone want to claim with a straight face that Roger Goodell is open and forthcoming with the media? Didn’t think so.

Hi Adrian,

I have enjoyed reading your articles over the years on the Avalanche.

I saw on Twitter recently that you were doing a poll on whether or not Claude Lemieux should be in the HHOF.  Personally, I think he should be.

A friend and myself prepared a document on Claude’s career and submitted it to the HHOF Selection Committee this past March.  I have attached it for you to read.  Feel free to use some of the stuff we bring-up in an article if you want.  I think we make a compelling case as to why Claude deserves to be in the HHOF.

The problem with the selection criteria to get into the HHOF is that is is highly biased towards the regular season and to offensive minded players.  Neither of those biases work in Claude’s favor.

Anyways, have a read and, hopefully, you come to the same conclusion we did that Claude deserves to be in the HHOF.

Kind Regards,

Craig

(From the article)

Regular Season Highlights
Games Played Goals Assists Points PIM
1,215 379 407 786 1,777
Ranks 110th in all-time regular season goals
Ranks 167th in all-time regular season points
Ranks 103rd in all-time regular season games played

Played in 1987 Rendez-vous Series – NHL All-Stars vs Team Russia
People who question whether Claude deserves to be in the HHOF will argue that his regular season point
totals were not high enough. Compared to other players in the HHOF this does have some merit but there
are three important points to consider:
1. Throughout his career Claude played mostly on defensive minded teams. Claude was on three
William Jennings Trophy winning teams and his teams finished in the top half of the NHL in goals
against for 15 of his 17 seasons. 
2. In Claude’s 17 seasons he only played three years in which the leading point getter on his team finished
in the top 10 of NHL regular season points (all in Colorado). This further proves the defensive nature
of the teams he played with in his career. 
3. While playing on defense minded teams throughout his career, Claude led his team in scoring twice
and was in the top four in team scoring in seven seasons. 

Playoff Highlights
Winner of four Stanley Cups (1986, 1995, 1996 and 2000)
Only modern day player to win four Stanley Cups with three different teams
Since 1986 is tied with multiple players for the most Stanley Cups with four
Winner of the 1995 Conn Smythe Trophy
Runner-up for the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1986

Ranks 9th in all-time playoff goals leaders with 80. Of the top 19 all-time playoff goals leaders only two
players are not in the HHOF, Claude and Esa Tikkanen who is ranked 14th
Ranks 24th in all-time playoff points leaders with 158. Of the top 27 all-time playoff points leaders only two
players are not in the HHOF, Claude and Bobby Smith who is ranked 22nd (assumed Jaromir Jagr will be in the
HHOF someday).
Tied for 3 rd in all-time playoff game winning goals with 19
Tied for 14th all-time playoff plus minus leaders with a plus 42
2nd in playoff scoring in the NHL between 1994-2000 with 99 points (Sergei Fedorov had 109). This
demonstrates his playoff dominance over a period of seven consecutive seasons.
Undeniably, Claude is the NHL’s best playoff player that is not in the HHOF.

International Tournaments
1985 World Juniors – Champions
1987 Canada Cup – Champions
1996 World Cup – Runner-up

Comparison to HHOFer Clarke Gillies
A player in the HHOF who had a very comparable career to Claude’s was Clarke Gillies. Clarke Gillies was
inducted into the HHOF in 2002, fourteen years after he retired. Coincidentally, 2017 is Claude’s 14 th year
since his retirement (except for his brief comeback with San Jose in 2009).
As noted in the table on Page 3, Claude’s and Clarke Gillies’ statistics are highly similar. One has to consider
that Clarke Gillies retired at the age of 33 while Claude played until he was 37 (actually, it was 44. He played at that age with San Jose in 2009). While Claude remained an effective NHL player throughout his career, his offensive contribution declined with age like most NHL players. If Claude had retired at age 33, his regular season points per game would have been .72; nearly identical to Clarke Gillies’ career mark of .73.
Clarke Gillies won all of his four Cups with one team (a dynasty) while Claude won his four Cups with three
different teams.
Clarke Gillies played most of his career on a line with two HHOF’s in Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier.
Clarke Gillies played in an era of much higher goals per game average (3.67 goals per game per team) than
Claude did (3.16).
The most goals Clarke Gillies had in a season was 38, for Claude it was 41.
Clark Gillies never led his team in scoring. Claude has done so twice.
Clarke Gillies had six 30 goal seasons, Claude had five.
Claude won a Conn Smythe Trophy, Clarke Gillies did not.
Claude’s playoff statistics in goals and assists are far superior to Clarke Gillies’.
If Clarke Gillies is in the HHOF, it begs the question as to why Claude Lemieux is not.

I think you make some great points Craig. I believe Lemieux should be in the Hall of Fame too, and the Gillies comparison is a good one. Not to take away from Gillies at all, but if we’re going by numbers (not to mention championship rings), Claude is right there and even better than him. I’m sure we might hear from a few old Isles fans now though.

I know that Claude Lemieux did a very dirty hit on Kris Draper in 1996. I know he wasn’t the most likable guy on the ice. But he paid the price for that. It should not disqualify him from rightfully getting his due as a Hall of Famer. He was a winner, and his personal stats compare well or better to those of many others in the Hall.

 

Adrian
From your experience, who has been the most/least superstitious in the Avs locker room?  
Follow up: did it work?  
Jomboo need rum!
(I don’t have to tell you that was a Major League reference, right?)
Thx. 
Mike
Mike, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen Major League. I’m weird like that. There are a lot of big blockbuster movies I’ve never seen. It’s not that I’m some movie snob at all, who thinks anything past the Indie level is conventional tripe. It’s just that, well, I just never got around to seeing it. I’ve never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, for instance. Never seen The Princess Bride. Never seen American Pie or any Transformers movie.
As to your question, that’s a tough one. Patrick Roy was certainly very superstitious. So were lots of other guys, like Daniel Briere, who used to, ironically, give a stick of his a rest after scoring a goal, believing he shouldn’t overdo it, that giving it a rest was better than using it every single night until he didn’t score. Then, he’d go back to the old goal stick when he thought he needed to break a slump.
As a person who was a slave to superstitions myself as a kid (I once stayed in the bathroom for the rest of a full 1977 Red-Sox Yankee game after a Sox player hit a first-inning homer while I was doing my business in there – Sox won of course) and still some today, I get it.
But I’ll give you a name: Joe Sakic. I’m not aware of any big superstitions Joe ever had. Good game or bad, Joe didn’t dwell on it. It was just “on to the next one.”
Dater

I’m very excited about Mironov next season. What are the BSN teams expectations of him, and what is his ceiling?

Thanks,
Ryan Sheahan 
Ryan, I gotta see him play live in real competition before I can give any kind of judgment/prediction. But the kid is big, seems to skate reasonably well and likes to play physical they say. So, I have reasonable expectations that he’ll be a pretty good pickup for the Avs. You always worry a bit about European players and their first-year adjustment to the North American-style game and smaller size of the rinks.
But I think the kid is going to be a pleasant surprise. Ask me again, though, in October.
Alexey Kudenko, RIA Novosti
Thanks for your questions. To ask Adrian a question for consideration to the Mailbag, email him at [email protected]
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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, Versus.com and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling "Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports' Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era" and "100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die", which was published in October, 2016.

  • Ace O’Dale

    Thanks, AD! As per Mironov, “plays physical” can also mean injury risk. It will be interesting to see how he fares in the AHL. Don’t get me wrong, I like the pick, but that aspect has me concerned.

    • Adrian Dater

      Yeah, that’s fair